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Kevin McCarthy Claims He Finally Has the Votes to Clinch Speakership

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McCarthy Claims He Finally Has the Votes

Republican Kevin McCarthy insisted he has the votes to be elected Speaker of the House of Representatives after persuading a large number of party rebels to back his bid. McCarthy had lost a record 13 ballots in his bid to become Speaker by Friday afternoon, spread out over four days.

McCarthy told reporters on Capitol Hill as the House voted to adjourn until late Friday night, “I’ll have the votes.” When asked why he was confident, the California congressman replied, “Because I count.”

McCarthy struck a bullish tone after making a series of concessions to his critics, including rule changes that would make it easier to call for a vote of no confidence in a future Speaker, as well as promises of top committee assignments for members of the ultra-conservative House Freedom Caucus.

Those efforts swayed more than half of the 20 Republicans who had opposed his speakership in previous rounds, including North Carolina’s Dan Bishop and Florida’s Byron Donalds. McCarthy, however, was still short of the simple majority required to seize the Speaker’s gavel after the 13th round of voting on Friday.

Kevin McCarthy

Kevin McCarthy Short by Six

Scott Perry of Pennsylvania, a previous holdout who switched to support McCarthy in the 12th vote, tweeted after the vote, “We’re at a turning point. I’ve bargained in good faith with one goal in mind: to return the People’s House to its rightful owners. The framework for an agreement is in place, so I voted for McCarthy in a good-faith effort to restore the People’s House.”

However, six members of his own party remained steadfast and defiant, sabotaging his chances of taking the gavel in the House in the first round of voting on Friday.

Bob Good, a Virginia Republican who has been among the dissidents, told the FT on Friday morning that he would not support McCarthy “at any time”.

“The whole reality is he doesn’t have 218, he’s not going to have 218, and the sooner he admits that, the sooner we can move forward as a conference and begin to debate, vet, and assess… [alternative] candidates,” he said.

Good expressed support for Ohio Republican Jim Jordan as Speaker, but suggested that other members suggest Steve Scalise, a Louisiana Republican and member of the House Republican leadership, as a possible candidate. “There are members who support him; I believe they should put forward his name, nominate him, and vote for him.”

Even though McCarthy had made significant concessions in recent days, Good said there was still a significant lack of “trust” in his willingness to follow through on them.

“He doesn’t believe in any of the things he’s agreeing to do, so he’d be doing them only under duress,” Good explained.

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Republican infighting and tensions

The last time more than one round of voting was required to select a Speaker was in 1923, when nine ballots were cast. The House is required by law to select a Speaker and cannot proceed with legislative business until someone is given the gavel.

The Republican infighting has exposed long-simmering tensions in a party that is trying to figure out how to move forward after a relatively poor showing in the midterm elections in November.

McCarthy is in a difficult position, in part because the “red wave” predicted by McCarthy and others did not materialize, and Republicans now control the House by a razor-thin margin.

The gridlock in the House has also raised concerns about how Congress will operate over the next two years, and whether McCarthy or any other Speaker will be able to bring the party’s warring factions together to pass any legislation.

The possibility of a debt ceiling crisis later this year is one looming threat. Economists predict that the US economy will default in the third quarter if lawmakers do not agree to raise the borrowing limit.

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Sean Hannity And Right-Wing Media Claimed The ‘Biden Crime Family’ Took Millions In Bribes. Their Narrative Just Fell Apart

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“The Biden crime family.”

It has long been a strong storyline in right-wing media and the GOP, used to demonise President Joe Biden – but it crumbled spectacularly on Thursday.

For a long time, Fox News and the rest of the right-wing media have accused Biden and his son Hunter of running an illegal $10 million bribery conspiracy to enrich themselves and sell out America. According to the tale, a representative of the Ukrainian energy company Burisma paid for access to then-Vice President Biden in order to improperly use his influence and aid in thwarting a Ukrainian prosecutor’s investigation into the business.

The evidence of the bribery plan has always been poor, with most credible news sites dismissing the charges. However, MAGA media figures such as Sean Hannity went into overdrive last year when a reportedly “highly credible” FBI informant claimed to have smoking gun evidence of the conspiracy.

hannity

Sean Hannity And Right-Wing Media Claimed The ‘Biden Crime Family’ Took Millions In Bribes. Their Narrative Just Fell Apart

The revelation of a secret FBI informant swept through right-wing media, with talking heads and sites portraying the claims as overwhelming evidence of criminal activity. It spawned scores of articles. Hundreds of FOX News segments. Republican lawmakers like James Comer and Jim Jordan, anxious for media attention, came on radio and television shows to fuel conspiracy theories and demand probes.

Hannity’s programme was the major vehicle for delivering the message to the GOP base. According to data from the progressive group Media Matters, the accusations were the basis for a startling 85 segments on his Fox News show in 2023. Hannity told his millions of weekly viewers that Biden had been “compromised,” citing informant reports to proclaim the president “very credibly accused of public corruption on a scale this country has never seen before.”

hannity

Sean Hannity And Right-Wing Media Claimed The ‘Biden Crime Family’ Took Millions In Bribes. Their Narrative Just Fell Apart

Meanwhile, on Capitol Hill, Comer, who chairs the powerful House Oversight Committee, exploited the charges made in right-wing media to accuse the FBI of a cover-up and attempted to build a corruption case against Biden. Right-wing media then praised these activities. And the feedback circle continued.

What’s the problem? Alexander Smirnov, the informant, cooked up the entire tale, federal investigators alleged Thursday, detaining the 43-year-old at Harry Reid International Airport in Las Vegas.

Donald Trump’s nominee for U.S. attorney, special counsel David Weiss, charged Smirnov with fabricating documents and lying to the FBI. According to the accusation, Smirnov gave “false derogatory information” about Biden to the law enforcement agency. His “story to the FBI was a fabrication, an amalgam of otherwise unremarkable business meetings,” according to the report.

“In short, the Defendant transformed his routine and unextraordinary business contacts with Burisma in 2017 and later into bribery allegations against [Joe Biden], the presumptive nominee of one of the two major political parties for President,Hannity after expressing bias against [Joe Biden] and his candidature,” according to the indictment.

The charges delivered a setback to the narrative that Fox News had promoted on the air and that Republicans had pressed in Congress. However, the same network that had publicised Smirnov’s charges against “the big guy,” implying that they formed the basis of a huge scandal that would eclipse Watergate in history, now showed little interest in the story.

hannity

Sean Hannity And Right-Wing Media Claimed The ‘Biden Crime Family’ Took Millions In Bribes. Their Narrative Just Fell Apart

Fox News provided very little coverage of the Weiss indictment in the hours following its announcement. Most importantly, Hannity should have attempted to inform his devoted audience that the story he had been relentlessly promoting to them had crumbled. Instead, he ignored the report, as did the rest of the right-wing network’s dishonest prime-time talk show hosts.

The spectacular downfall of the assertion is simply the most recent example of a bigger pattern from Fox News and the right-wing media ecosystem in which it works.
MAGA Media figures have repeatedly pushed false narratives and conspiracy theories to their large audiences, only to look the other way when they fall. Just last year, Fox News paid a record $787.5 million to promote electoral misinformation. It never ran a retraction on air, and executives have stated that they are happy with the network’s 2020 coverage.

It’s a record that’s played repeatedly. By the time the truth catches up with the fraudulent charges pushed by right-wing media, the narrative has already been established, and the outlets have moved on to the next alleged scandal.

SOURCE – (CNN)

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Yulia Navalnaya Once Avoided The Limelight. Now She’s Russia’s Newest Opposition Leader

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LONDON — Yulia Navalnaya used to avoid the spotlight, remaining in the background as her husband, Russian opposition leader Alexei Navalny, rose to become President Vladimir Putin’s fiercest adversary.

However, following his death in prison last week, she took on a podium generally designated for prominent leaders in Munich and declared that Putin and his friends would be held accountable for his killing. Later, she earnestly pledged, “I will continue Alexei Navalny’s work.”

It was a bold declaration from a woman who once told the Russian issue of Harper’s Bazaar that her “key task” was caring for the couple’s children and home.

Yulia Navalnaya’s new duty will be to guide the Russian opposition through one of its history’s darkest and most chaotic periods.

Navalnaya

Yulia Navalnaya Once Avoided The Limelight. Now She’s Russia’s Newest Opposition Leader

Navalny’s death dealt a significant blow to the opposition, which is already fragmented. The question is whether Navalnaya can gather her husband’s troops and work with other opposition parties to launch a successful challenge to Putin, who is poised to serve another six years in the Kremlin following the March presidential election.

Putin has stepped up his crackdown on free speech and dissent in Russia, imprisoning opponents and critics alike.

Navalnaya has previously confronted Putin. She and Navalny had been married for over 20 years, and she stood by his side while he helped lead the largest rallies in Russia since the Soviet Union’s demise and during subsequent jail stints.

She has accused Putin of murdering her husband, a claim that Kremlin spokesman Dmitry Peskov described as “unfounded” and “insolent.”

The risk to Navalny’s life had been “discussed extensively” with his wife and close team before his 2021 return to Russia from Germany, where he received treatment for nerve agent poisoning, according to Vladimir Ashurkov, a longtime friend of the Navalnys and co-founder of Navalny’s Anti-Corruption Foundation.

Nonetheless, “it was a big decision” for Navalnaya to continue her husband’s profession, he explained.

In their marriage, she was “the rock” on which Navalny relied. Ashurkov stated that they “had an understanding” that Navalnaya would refrain from political activity and keep out of the spotlight.

Analysts believe Navalny returned to Russia from Germany because he realised he would struggle to be seen as a legitimate opposition leader abroad.

His widow is unlikely to travel to Russia due to security concerns, and she now has a similar difficulty in determining how to run her husband’s organisation from exile.

On Friday, immediately after Navalny’s death was announced, she met Sviatlana Tsikhanouskaya, the Belarusian opposition leader.

Navalnaya

Yulia Navalnaya Once Avoided The Limelight. Now She’s Russia’s Newest Opposition Leader

Tsikhanouskaya took over the political baton from her husband, Belarusian opposition leader Syarhei Tsikhanouski, who was imprisoned before Belarus’ presidential election 2020.

She launched a successful campaign but fled Belarus after long-term President Alexander Lukashenko declared himself the victor of an election generally seen as fraudulent in the West.

“We understood each other without any words,” Tsikhanouskaya said of Navalnaya. Tsikhanouskaya stated that she had no idea about her husband’s condition or if he was dead or alive.

“It’s so difficult when you’re in so much pain, but you have to… give interviews to encourage the democratic world to take decisive action,” Tsikhanouskaya told the Associated Press.

Tsikhanouskaya, who has been operating from overseas for nearly four years, described living in political exile as tough. It is “very important not to lose connection with the people inside the country,” she said.

That won’t be easy, particularly in Russia, where most people still obtain news from Kremlin-controlled official media.

Despite being Russia’s most recognised opposition leader — charming and cracking jokes even while serving a 19-year prison sentence — Navalny was rarely shown on state television, and his death was barely briefly mentioned.

The Kremlin is expected to take the same tactic with Navalnaya, essentially isolating her from the Russian people through a state-sponsored information blockade.

Since Putin invaded Ukraine, the space for criticism in Russia has shrunk even more. Russian authorities have increased speech restrictions and imprisoned opponents, many of whom are ordinary citizens, frequently for decades. Hundreds of people who lay flowers in Navalny’s memory have been imprisoned, and convincing Russians to take a collective public stand against Putin will be nearly difficult.

While Navalnaya has dominated headlines since her husband’s death, Graeme Robertson, a professor of political science at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill and author of a book about Putin and contemporary Russian politics, believes her challenge will be “to stay relevant” when interest fades.

Robertson proposed that she could accomplish this by supporting Navalny’s volunteers and political networks in Russia, keeping them “underground but alive,” and deciding on a short-term aim.

When Navalnaya walked into a meeting of the European Union’s Foreign Affairs Council on Monday, she lost little time explaining what that objective — and her leadership of Navalny’s organisation — would look like.

Sitting next to the EU’s foreign policy chief, she urged Western leaders not to recognise the results of March’s presidential election, to sanction more members of Putin’s entourage, and to do more to assist Russians who have fled abroad.

Navalnaya

Yulia Navalnaya Once Avoided The Limelight. Now She’s Russia’s Newest Opposition Leader

Navalny’s Anti-Corruption Foundation has made headlines in Western and independent Russian media recently with sleek movies that converted ordinarily uninteresting corruption probes into online blockbusters.

However, the organisation needed to gain widespread support from the Russian populace, to effect political change, or to develop a governance model.

Tsikhanouskaya, widely regarded as Belarus’ democratic leader, stated that she prioritised the development of democratic institutions and the representation of Belarusians within Belarus.

This includes a transitional cabinet and platforms where “all the parties, all the forces are represented,” she stated, seemingly pushing Navalnaya to follow suit.

Ashurkov stated that Navalnaya could be the person to bring together Russia’s opposition, which is notorious for its “disagreements and squabbles.”

“She has a very high reputation,” he remarked.

The duties ahead of her are formidable, and she will face them while grieving for her husband and battling for his body’s return.

“By killing Alexei, Putin killed half of me, half of my heart and half of my soul,” she went on to say. “But I still have the other half, and it tells me that I have no right to give up.”

SOURCE – (AP)

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Putin Says Russia Has No Intention Of Putting Nuclear Weapons In Space, Denying US Claims

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MOSCOW — Russian President Vladimir Putin said Tuesday that Moscow has no plans to put nuclear weapons in space, asserting that the country has just acquired space capabilities equivalent to those of the United States.

Putin’s warning comes after the White House confirmed last week that Russia had received a “troubling” anti-satellite weapon capability, albeit such a weapon is not currently operational. White House national security spokesperson John Kirby stated that it would violate the international Outer Space Treaty but declined to comment on whether the weapon is nuclear-capable.

putin

Putin Says Russia Has No Intention Of Putting Nuclear Weapons In Space, Denying US Claims

The deployment of “nuclear weapons or other types of weapons of mass destruction” in orbit as well as the stationing of “weapons in outer space in any other manner” are both prohibited by the convention, which more than 130 nations have signed, including Russia. The White House stated that it would seek to engage the Russians directly on the issues.

“Our position is quite clear and transparent: we have always been and remain categorically opposed to the deployment of nuclear weapons in space,” Putin said in a statement. “Just the opposite, we are urging everyone to adhere to all the agreements that exist in this sphere.”

During a meeting with his defence minister, Sergei Shoigu, Putin stated that Russia has only achieved space capabilities that “other nations, including the United States, have.”

putin

Putin Says Russia Has No Intention Of Putting Nuclear Weapons In Space, Denying US Claims

“And they know it,” he added.

“We haven’t deployed any nuclear weapons in space or any elements of them to use against satellites or to create fields where satellites can’t work efficiently,” Shoigu said in an interview.

Shoigu claimed that the White House may have concocted assertions about a new Russian space capacity to pressure Congress to back Ukrainian aid and to convince Moscow to resume nuclear arms control talks, which Russia has postponed due to tensions with the U.S. over Ukraine.

putin

Putin Says Russia Has No Intention Of Putting Nuclear Weapons In Space, Denying US Claims

Putin did not rule out future discussions with the United States, but he restated his belief that Washington’s determination to Russia’s defeat in Ukraine makes them impossible at the moment.

“The U.S. and the West, for one thing, are calling for Russia’s strategic defeat, while, on the other hand, they would like to have a dialogue on strategic stability, pretending that those things aren’t connected,” Mr Putin said. “It won’t work.”

SOURCE – (AP)

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